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The Mature Traveler

Journeys to the Hearts of Other Lands

February 25, 1996|HANK KOVELL

Global Volunteers, founded in 1984, offers a travel experience unlike most others. It gathers volunteers to work on short-term community development projects for periods of one, two or three weeks in the United States and foreign countries. A majority of the volunteers--nearly 70%--are seniors, with the largest group between the ages of 60 and 70.

Throughout 1996, trips of three weeks' duration are scheduled to Indonesia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Poland and Russia, China and Ecuador. Two-week trips will be in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Greece; and one-week programs in Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Volunteers for the program pay to participate, and all costs are tax deductible. The fee includes orientation materials, food and lodging at the site, plus project and program expenses. Ground or air transportation to the site is extra. Program fees for service in the United States is $350. Fees for developing countries range from $995 to $1,995. Programs in Europe range from $1,690 to $1,995.

Work projects usually fall into three areas:

* Teaching: Many teach conversational English, but people are needed to teach basic science, math, computer literacy and public health courses.

* Community infrastructure: Volunteers assist with building, repairing and painting facilities such as schools, community centers, health care facilities and libraries.

* Professional services: Dentists, nurses and physicians are needed. Businessmen and women are also needed to teach the principles of free enterprise.

Participants are provided with preparatory classes or written information before they go. Volunteers live and work with the people they are helping. However, as one executive cautioned, "These non-touristy trips are not for everyone. Some are not prepared for the culture shock, even though people's hearts may be in the right place. It takes a certain type of temperament, because you have to be flexible in your expectations."

For more information on Global Volunteers, call (800) 487-1074.

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